The Physics Department aims to provide students with an appreciation and sense of enjoyment as well as an understanding of how physics affects their everyday lives.

Through learning in physics, students develop their interest in and understanding of the world. They engage in a wide range of investigative tasks, which allows them to develop important skills to become creative, inventive and enterprising, in a world where the skills and knowledge developed by physics are needed across all sectors of society.

The Physics course encourages resourcefulness, which leads to becoming a confident individual. Successful learners in physics think creatively, analyse and solve problems. Physics can produce responsible citizens, through studying the impact it makes on their lives, on the environment, and on society.

Physics gives learners an insight into the underlying nature of our world and its place in the universe. From the sources of the power we use, to the exploration of space, it covers a range of applications of the relationships that have been discovered through experiment and calculation, including those used in modern technology. An experimental and investigative approach is used to develop knowledge and understanding of physics concepts.

Not only is Physics a fascinating subject to study but it can also lead to many exciting employment opportunities. For example, National qualifications in physics are highly valued when applying to college or university courses in engineering, medicine, veterinary science, computing, architecture, aviation, earth sciences or space science. Careers in a physics-based discipline or related area include coding (think gaming or Pixar!), medical physics, climate science, renewable energy, ballistics, communications and logistics, oil and gas exploration or finance. The list is endless…why not go and explore your future with physics!

Most important of all – physics is fun!


S2 CfE Third Level Physics

The S2 course follows the same curriculum as in S1, but students are taught physics by a specialist teacher. Students continue to build on their learning through practical investigation and discussion, developing a skill base of inquiry, investigation, analysis and critical thinking.

The main scientific themes studied in S2 are Forces, Electricity, Vibrations and Waves and Topical Science.


S3/4 National 4 & 5 Physics

The National 4 and 5 courses run parallel throughout S3-4. Learners will gain an understanding of physics, and develop this through a variety of approaches, including practical activities.

The course has three mandatory units that are designed to provide progression to Higher Physics. The general aim of the units is to develop skills of scientific inquiry, investigation and analytical thinking, along with knowledge and understanding of topics specific to each unit. Learners will apply these skills when considering the applications of the topics studied on our lives, as well as the implications on society/the environment. This is done through a variety of approaches, including investigation and problem solving. The students will be formally tested on each unit, including a written exam and a practical investigation. An individual research project is also undertaken and counts toward the final grade awarded for National 5.

The units studied are:

  • Electricity and Energy, which includes energy transfer, heat and the gas laws
  • Waves and Radiation, which includes wave properties and nuclear radiation
  • Dynamics and Space, which includes kinematics, dynamics and aspects of astronomy and space exploration


S5 Higher Physics

The general aim of the Higher course is to develop skills of scientific inquiry, investigation and analytical thinking, along with knowledge and understanding of the topics studied in each unit. Learners will apply these skills when considering the applications of physics on our lives, as well as the implications on society and the environment. The four units studied are designed to provide progression to the Advanced Higher Physics Course.

The units studied are:

  • Our Dynamic Universe, which includes kinematics, dynamics and space-time
  • Particles and Waves, which includes particle theory and wave properties
  • Electricity, which includes circuit theory, electrical storage and transfer
  • Researching Physics, which includes research, practical investigation, analysis and communication of results

To study Higher Physics it is recommended that students have a Grade A or B at National 5 Physics and Maths.


S6 Advanced Higher Physics

The Advanced Higher course provides an opportunity for students to study physics at University entry level. It deepens the knowledge and understanding gained at Higher level and provides opportunities to apply concepts and principles in a variety of situations. It is a challenging course and students wishing to study AH Physics should be self-motivated competent mathematicians with a high degree of practical skills.

The units studied are:

  • Rotational Motion and Astrophysics, which includes kinematics, angular and rotational motion, gravitation, general relativity and stellar physics
  • Quanta and Waves, which includes quantum theory, cosmic radiation, and wave theory
  • Electromagnetism, which includes electric and magnetic fields, capacitance and inductance
  • Investigating Physics, which is focussed on experimental physics and investigative report writing

To study Advanced Higher Physics it is recommended that students preferably have a Grade A at Higher Physics and Maths.


Useful links

CfE Third Level (S1-2)

The CfE Third Level is a phase of education in Scotland, generally for pupils aged 11 to 15.


National 4 to Advanced Higher Resource Guides for Physics

These guides show the mandatory course topics from the SQA course and unit support notes. They include useful links and video clips explaining key concepts.


SQA Physics


BBC Bitesize

The pages below provide interactive revision opportunities for the topics studied at National 4/5 and Higher Physics.


National 4 Physics


National 5 Physics


Higher Physics